Artists In Trouble, Artists Making Trouble
Artists have always made trouble, and they’ve always been in trouble. Artistic imagery involves issues of belief, identity, and morality, and some artists step over the bounds, deliberately or accidentally. In the past, artists ended up in jail, and some ended up dead for what they’ve created. Artistic controversy is still very much alive and well and irritating the powerful and the not so powerful.
These are all artists from the last 40 years. Most are still alive, some are not (Basquiat, Wojnarowicz, Guston, Mapplethorpe are dead).
Wojnarowicz's very controversial film
Karen Finley in performance (warning, strong stuff)
A news report on Ai Wei Wei's ongoing legal troubles
Ai Wei Wei
Trailer for Cremaster
It is hard not to have an opinion about any of these artists. They all make work to deliberately provoke a reaction. I expect you to have an opinion and to express it. If you do, don’t just throw it out there, make a case for your point of view. Some of the controversies are about content, (most of them), some are about the form of the works of art (Serra, Guston, Liebeskind, Basquiat). Some are controversial because of matters of sexuality (Chicago, Wojnarowicz, Mapplethorpe). Others are controversial for religious reasons (Ofili, Wojnarowicz, Serrano). Other artists became controversial because of issues of identity and history (Puryear, Kieffer, Liebeskind, Whiteread, Wei Wei). Political and religious authorities intervened in a number of these controversies (Ofili, Mapplethorpe, Wei Wei, Serrano, Wojnarowicz).
Your task is to choose one of these artists, find out what you can, and write a 5 page paper on your artist. Your paper must be typed, double spaced, with a bibliography in addition to the 5 pages of text. You are encouraged to use illustrations.
Why is the artist you chose controversial? What is the controversy all about? What consequences has the artist faced over their work? Is the controversy about the artist or their work or both? Do you think the arguments and criticisms of their work misrepresent the artist, or describe the work accurately? Is the criticism fair? What do you think the artist wants to accomplish? What is the art about? What is the artist’s background and how might that affect the way they make art? Do you think that they succeed? What do you think about the artist’s work?
Your task is to explain these artists and the controversy around their work.
Papers are due last day of class, December 12.